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What Are Drop Sets? Plus, How To Use Them To Maximize Your Workouts

An expert breaks down the benefits of adding drop sets to your routine.

Resistance training, also known as strength training, can be considered "medicine," according to research published in the Current Sports Medicine Reports. That's because resistance training can help you avoid or manage type 2 diabetes, boost your cardiovascular health, promote the development of your bones, decrease pain in your lower back, and soothe discomfort from arthritis. And if you want your muscles to grow and get even stronger, consider incorporating a "resistance training technique"—drop set—in your workouts.

What is the drop set all about? Well, we chatted with Stephen Marcotte, Orangetheory's workout design and experience manager, who breaks down this form of resistance training and how to add it to your fitness routine. Keep reading to learn more, and next, don't miss 7 Most Important Exercises for Men To Build Muscle.

What is a drop set?

woman lifting dumbbells at the gym, concept of performing drop set

This "resistance training technique," as Marcotte calls it, requires the lifter to perform as many reps as they can until their muscles get tired or they're unable to keep up solid form. "At that point, they quickly lighten the load and do as many reps as possible again," Marcotte explains. "The main key is to make sure you change the weight quickly, so your body doesn't have time to recover. The idea is to fatigue your muscles further than you can by solely doing the initial set."

There aren't any rigid guidelines when it comes to completing drop sets. A stellar place to kick things off is by selecting a weight you can comfortably perform the exercise with, for a total of six to 12 reps. According to Marcotte, you should "do as many reps as you can until you fatigue or lose form. Then, decrease the weight by 10 to 20%. You can perform one to three drops within a single set. If you're new to drop sets, start with one drop. If you're an experienced lifter, you may be able to do two to three drops."

Keep in mind that drop sets are considered an "advanced" method of training, so be sure to add them tactically to your fitness regimen. And whatever you do, don't perform drop sets on a daily basis, as that can result in overtraining.

"Orangetheory Fitness offers Lift 45 classes dedicated solely to resistance training, featuring dumbbells, medicine balls, TRX straps, workout benches, and more to support members through their resistance training," Marcotte tells us.

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What are the benefits of performing drop sets?

As far as the benefits of drop sets are concerned, Marcotte says there's some research that shows drop sets aid in completely tiring out your muscles, which can help your muscles grow and get stronger.

Marcotte adds, "Another benefit is that lifters can perform the same volume (total reps) in a shorter time with drop sets than with straight sets. For example, in a drop set with one drop, you may do 12 reps in the first set, then eight reps in the first "drop" for a total of 20 reps in the set. That set may take you a total of one minute to complete. This can be more time effective than doing two sets of 10 with a 30 to 45-second rest between sets. Essentially, it can be an efficient training technique in time-crunched situations."

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
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